Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mini Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Title: Hounded
Author: Kevin Hearne
Publisher: Orbit
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #1
Source: Bought
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Description: Atticus O'Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old - when in actuality, he's twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.
Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he's hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power - plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish - to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

My thoughts: I love stories that involve mythology, especially when it's something slightly less commonly used, like this one with the use of celtic myths. It got straight to the action, which I like in a new series and kept up a fast pace. There are some hints of romantic options for Atticus which again I like to see but they weren't a big part of the story or the plot. And of course we have Atticus' relationship with his dog - as a dog owner, how could I not love that? Overall I thought this was a good book and I'll definitely be reading more of the series. I'm giving it 7/10 and from what I've heard the series gets better as it goes along, so I've got that to look forward to.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Mini book review: Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells

Title: Cursed Moon
Author: Jaye Wells
Release date: August 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Series: Prospero's War
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Bought

Description: When a rare Blue Moon upsets the magical balance in the city, Detective Kate Prospero and her Magical Enforcement colleagues pitch in to help Babylon PD keep the peace. Between potions going haywire and everyone's emotions running high, every cop in the city is on edge. But the moon's impact is especially strong for Kate who's wrestling with guilt over falling off the magic wagon.

After a rogue wizard steals dangerous potions from the local covens, Kate worries their suspect is building a dirty magic bomb. Her team must find the anarchist rogue before the covens catch him, and make sure they defuse the bomb before the Blue Moon deadline. Failure is never an option, but success will require Kate to come clean about her secrets.

My thoughts: I loved the first book in this series so I was eager to get stuck in to this one, and Ms. Wells did not disappoint. The pace, action, twists and character development are as good as book 1 (Dirty Magic). I love the will-they-won't-they, does-she-even-realise-she-likes-him-that-way side of Kate' relationship with Moralles. I also really enjoyed seeing the changes in her relationship with her brother after the events of the previous book.
As a classicist and having written my dissertation on Dionysus, I really enjoyed that aspects of his myth were used in this story as well. I always enjoy seeing how different authors use various myths and as you can guess, Dionysus is a bit of a favourite :)
There are a lot of characters that readers got to see a bit more of in this book who I look forward to 'meeting' again in subsequent books in the series - Uncle Abe and John Volos in particular.
I'm giving this 8 stars, it was one of those books I wanted to keep on reading but also wanted to make last much longer!

Getting Back To Blogging

It's been a busy few months for me, first working a job I hated which left me exhausted at the end of each day and without much free time, then throwing four weeks of work experience while still working full time into the mix. I have actually read a lot more books than I've reviewed so far this year, and I was determined to get some of them posted so my reading challenge on Goodreads doesn't show up as having quite such a bad result as it currently does! I was all set to do a 'thirty reviews in thirty days' challenge through December to get caught up. Then in the first week of the month, I went to a job interview, was offered the post the same day, and moved to London from Scotland a week later! So I didn't have quite as much time for reviewing as I thought I would this month!

I'll be getting as many mini reviews onto Goodreads as I can before the end of the year, but I'm going to be spacing them out a little bit more on the blog - probably one a day. Unlike my normal full length reviews, these will all be 'mini reviews', just a few sentences about my thoughts on the story, with a couple of exceptions for my favourite books of the year. Once I'm all caught up on posting my 2015 reviews though, I'll get back to normal length reviews for 2016.

I've got a 9-5, 5 days a week, ordinary job now - for the first time ever! This means life will be a lot more organised this year, so I really want to get back in to blogging regularly. My aim with the blog for 2016 is to post at least two reviews a week, plus joining in with a couple of memes/blog hops. Hopefully this year I can stick to that!

What are your blogging goals for the year? Do you have some kind of timetable in mind, or are you more free flowing with what you post and when?


Friday, September 18, 2015

Follow Friday

Hello! Welcome to the blog, my name's Ailsa. I read a lot of different genres depending on my mood. My favourites are fantasy and urban fantasy but you'll also see reviews for crime, thrillers, contemporary romance and historical fiction here.

You can follow the blog with GFC or by an email subscription, or follow me on Twitter - all links are over there on the right hand side of the screen.

A little more about me: I graduated last year and currently live in Glasgow, Scotland. I've got a boring hospitality job while I'm applying for graduate jobs that I actually want to do!

Feel free to leave your own website links in the comments and I will have a look at them. This week's question was to think of new things you'd like to know about the featured person, so I'm going to throw this question out to you, too: Why did you start blogging?
For me, it was to be able to talk about books with other people. I do it for various reasons but the route of it is still that - I like to talk about books and see what other people are saying about books :-)

Feature & Follow is a weekly feature hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh: mini book review

Title: Shards Of Hope
Author: Nalini Singh
Publisher: Gollancz (UK)
Publication date: June 2015
Series: Psy/Changeling #14
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Source: Bought

Description: Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn't welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she's too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden's passionate determination may not be enough - because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken . . . like Zaira.

My thoughts: It's always hard for me to talk about a later book in a long series, which is partly why I've put off writing this review, and considered not talking about the book at all. But it's still a great series and deserves some attention on the blog.

I really enjoyed Shards Of Hope, as I do with all of Nalini Singh's novels but to me it wasn't the most compelling romance of the series, not one I'll go back and read again and again. Aden and Zaira figure out pretty early on in the book that they like being together as a couple and that that is something they're going to make work with their lives. The romance is sweet and mostly easy and mostly takes a back seat to the politics. The psy/changeling world continues to change dramatically and Aden and the other Arrows are trying to help guide Psy with particularly strong volatile abilities to find a place in the new structure where they can be safe and more stable.

Things I particularly liked: Getting to know more about the Arrows and their inner workings; glimpses of a new Changeling pack (who I hope will get a lot more page time in the next arc of the series); a hero & heroine who are fairly equal in both their physical and mental abilities; brief interactions with some of my other favourite characters; the continued developments and backlash from events in the preceding couple of books; the set up of a new background conflict where the instigator is hard to pinpoint.

I really enjoyed the book and of course I'm looking forward to the next one. I'll give Shards Of Hope 8/10.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Clariel by Garth Nix book review

Title: Clariel
Author: Garth Nix
Publication date: October 2014
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Source: Bought
Genre: Fantasy

Description: Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid to the sinister Guildmaster Kilip. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating. With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her - and it is herself she must question most of all.

My thoughts: I’ll start by saying that this is a stand-alone novel set in the same world as Garth Nix’s ‘Old Kingdom’ series, however it’s set several hundred years before the previous books. So if you’re new to the world, you can start with this one. Having said that you can, though, I personally wouldn’t recommend it - there were several little details in this book that mean so much more when you’re familiar with the other books. I just feel like people will enjoy this book more if they’ve read the others in the series.

It was so much fun to be back in the world of The Old Kingdom again! I really love the original trilogy and it’s one I re-read bits of almost every year. Clariel was fun to read but it wasn’t my favourite of Mr. Nix’s work. Something about the pacing of the novel just didn’t work for me and I wonder if the story was originally either longer or shorter and got changed to fit the stand-alone novel length that it is. This is another reason I don’t recommend it as a starting point. I don’t think this is the best representation of Garth Nix’s writing. One thing I did really like about it was that Clariel is asexual. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a book with an asexual main character and that was interesting and refreshing. It wasn’t just done to make an ‘issue’ either which I appreciated; it’s a central part of who Clariel is (obviously) and ties in hugely to why she wants what she does and acts the way she does.

Yes, I liked this book, but it’s not my favourite in the series and while Clariel was a very interesting character to read about and see the little choices that lead her down her path, the plot and pacing just didn’t quite build enough intensity for me.

My verdict on this one is 7/10.

On a slightly-related note, I really want a ‘Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?’ t-shirt. Surely these exist somewhere?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

August Book Haul & Reading Wrap Up

Hello! I'm kind of combining Video Day & Stacking The Shelves this week - here's my August book haul & reading wrap up :)

Have you read any of these?


Friday, September 11, 2015

Series that deserve more attention

Feature & Follow is a weekly hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. You can add your link to the list on their pages.

This week's question is: What book do you love that no one else seems to have heard of?

I think in the book blogging world we get very into 'The Next Big Thing' and don't look back very often. So I have two slightly older series I want to mention today.

First - Jena Black's Morgan Kingsley series. This came out a few years ago but was one of the series that got my hooked on urban fantasy. Morgan is an exorcist, banishing demons who unlawfully occupy a human - until she discovers a demon has snuck into her own body. The series has loads of action & political manoeuvring as well as some very sexy moments. ( Find it at The Book Depository |  Goodreads)

Secondly, the series which follows Genny, a fae woman working in a modern day London when faeries and vampires are 'out' to the humans. Genny works to solve problems for people with magical solutions but both her job and her personal life get her in complicated situations. Magic, vampires and all kinds of faerie creatures running around London, along with a great love triangle - this is another excellent urban fantasy series. The last book of Genny's story arc comes out next year I think so this is the perfect time to start catching up with the other books. (Find it at The Book Depository | Goodreads )

Leave links to your own FF post in the comments and I'll have a look at them!


Thursday, September 10, 2015

In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware book review

Title: In A Dark Dark Wood
Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Harvill Secker (UK) / Scout Press (USA)
Publication date: 30 July 2015
Genre: Thriller
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Description: In a dark, dark wood 
Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. 
There was a dark, dark house
Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?
And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room
But something goes wrong. Very wrong.
And in the dark, dark room.... 
Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

My thoughts: (Quick aside: I've also done a video review for this one so if that's more your thing, you can find it here.)

The tagline for this book (Someone's getting married. Someone's getting murdered.) intrigued me so I thought i would give it a go. In the very first pages, Nora, the main character, is running through the woods, trying to get to a road, and when she does, there’s some kind of accident - she wakes up in hospital. The book then alternates between the present with her in the hospital trying to piece together what happened, and her recollections. She was invited to a hen party weekend (or a bachelorette party in the States) for a girl she was best friends with in school. She hasn’t been in touch with the girl since Nora abruptly transferred school and moved away. She doesn’t disclose to the reader why but it was immediately clear that Something Had Happened. I made a guess straight away and when the ‘big reveal’ for that point eventually came along, I was right. It did frustrate me a little that it was built up as being a big deal and a big secret when I thought it was really obvious but maybe that’s just me and good guessing.

Anyway, Nora goes to the party, where she meets other random people who have never met before despite all being really good friends with the bride-to-be, Claire. They stay in a big spooky house in the middle of some woods, and because in the hospital Claire knows someone has died, there’s immediately a sinister edge to things. One of the people here in the house is a killer, and one is going to be dead by the end of the weekend. I liked that over the course of the book, I suspected almost everyone of being the killer at one point. However it did narrow down to two in particular that I kept switching between. By the end, it wasn’t that surprising to learn who it was and I was skeptical that Nora hadn’t figured it out sooner.

I did really enjoy this. It was a book I carried around with me, reading whenever I had a spare moment. It was easy to go in and out of that way and kept me up reading while I was in London. It was an enjoyable thriller to read, not too intense and creepy but still suspenseful with nuanced characters who had the potential to be both victims or killers. I’m giving this one 7/10.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Invasion Of The Tearling, by Erika Johansen - book review

Title: The Invasion Of The Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Publication date: June 2015
Publisher: Transworld (UK)/ Harper (USA)
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Description: With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighbouring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling – and that of Kelsea’s own soul – may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

My thoughts: I love this one! Great character development, realistic leadership and a fresh way of looking at 'world after the fall of technology/rise again of magic' idea made it one of my favourite reads of the year so far.

In this book, Kelsea has settled in to the role of being queen but she still faces plenty of challenges. So often in fantasy novels, the prodigal young ruler takes the throne and immediately starts dispensing good advice and fair judgements, and is loved by all the kingdom. Kelsea is indeed gaining a reputation as a fair queen, but the decisions she makes and the way she handles things are often met with disappointment or alarm by her friends and advisors. She isn't the most tactful person sometimes. This book really looks at the price of doing what is right and the political ramifications for Kelsea and the Tearling because of what she has done and what she does in this book. People make mistakes and I think Erica Johansen tackles Kelsea's development very well. She's learning to do some things well, but there were points in the book where I was putting my head in my hand wishing she hadn't just said something. If this book held consequences from what happened in The Queen Of The Tearling, I expect book three will also show what has happened because of several small rulings taken in this one.

In the first book, there were hints about the history of the Tearling and it's founding. People talk about 'The Crossing' from the old world and that many things were lost in that Crossing. In Invasion Of The Tearling, readers get to learn more about what happened. I knew as soon as I read it that some people were going to be... shall we say... upset, because of how it's done. With her magic, Kelsea can see back in time into the mind of a Pre-Crossing woman called Lily. Lily lives in our world, in roughly the 2070s in the USA. So of course there is a lot of technology, cars, guns, security. (A lot of security - Lily's world and life are not pleasant ones.) It's a big juxtaposition between Kelsea's world with it's limited technology, building tools, and medical knowledge to Lily's world of modern conveniences and governmental invasions of privacy. I found it really interesting and I don't think it was a big deal, but I'm sure some readers will have issues about the contrast. I do have to say, that while it was really interesting to see the history of the Tearling and the reasons for it's foundation and some of why it is the way it is, with no technology, I'm not entirely sure why there was so much about it - I'm not sure about it's purpose in the story. My guess is that in book three, something that Kelsea has seen in the flashbacks will be very important and I'm looking forward to seeing things tie together a bit more.

I loved getting to know some characters a bit better in this book. It really rounds out the world and shows the positive changes in the castle and the country since Kelsea has taken command. I'm really excited to see how characters like Glee and her sister who has joined the palace guard tie in with the bigger picture of the story. They, and other people you see more of in this book, like Pen and Mace, already have clear important roles in the story but I feel like they are going to have some staring moments in book three.

Overall, I absolutely loved this story. I read it over just a couple of days, I could barely put it down - I just had to know what happened next! Lily's story was just as gripping, and for me a lot scarier, than Kelsea's, and I enjoyed seeing Erika Johansen weave the two of them together. I adore the character development in this book, the changes in Kelsea were so well done and believable. She's growing up and adapting to leadership at a realistic pace, making the mistakes you would expect for a young woman and a new ruler. I really can't wait for book three. I'm giving The Invasion Of The Tearling 9 out of 10 stars.

Let me know if you've read this one because I would love to talk about it with people!


Saturday, September 5, 2015

A bookshelf tour

Good morning everyone! It's a lovely sunny day here in Glasgow, Scotland but unfortunately I'm going to spend most of it inside at work. Boooo. The new job has also meant a busy week, trying to get used to my new schedule and having full work days again, so unfortunately I didn't get any reviews up, but I've got a couple lined up for the next few days and several other exciting books to talk to you about soon.

In the meantime, I said Friday was going to be Video Day. I know I'm a day late but here is a tour of my bookshelves here in Glasgow. There aren't many because I've just moved in and most of my books are still at home but there are some good ones and an exciting TBR pile here already.

What are your weekend plans? Let me know in the comments!


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: London Book Haul

Good morning everyone! I've mentioned I spent a couple of weeks in London doing work experience at Penguin Random House earlier this month (and I'll blog about that soon). You won't be surprised that I picked up a few books while I was in the city :-)

Most of these are published by PRH and were free copies but I also went to 'Fantasy In The Court' hosted by Goldsboro Books and Hodderscape, where I bought another book as well. I've listed them below the video if you prefer to read about them.

Mountain Rescue - I love to ski and so do my family, so I thought this would be an interesting read to share with them. It's non fiction, about accidents in the mountains of New Zealand.

Hiroshima - This was originally published in a New York paper shortly after the disaster & tells the stories of some survivors. It's very short and I've almost finished reading it.

Highbridge, by Phil Redmond - This is a crime novel, set in Northern England, by someone who has done a lot of writing for TV in the UK. I don't know much about it but as this one doesn't come out until January, I'm not going to read it just yet.

In A Dark Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware - This is a brand new thriller which I've finished reading already. I really enjoyed it, and just realised I haven't done a written review yet, but you can find my video review by clicking here.

Watch The Lady, by Elizabeth Fremantle - Historical fiction, similar to Philippa Gregory. I haven't started it yet but I'm hoping to get to it later in September.

Vowed, by Liz de Jager - This is the one I bought, it's the sequel to Banished and follows Kit as she
tries to sort out some badly behaved fae in England. I'm reading it at the moment and will definitely be reviewing it when I'm done.

So that's all of my books this week! If you want to join the link up for Stacking The Shelves, you can do so on Tynga's blog.

Have you read any of these? Leave me the links for your own book haul posts and I will have a look at them :-)


Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Title: All The Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Publication date: April 2015
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Borrowed

Description: "Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.''

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth.

My thoughts: I love books set during the World Wars, I think it's a fascinating time period and full of very touching stories against a tense backdrop. This book certainly brings it to life. The story is told in two parts, moving back and forth between the past, charting the childhood of both Marie-Laure and Werner, and the 'present' (for them) - a period of a few days when they are both in the city of Saint Malo while it is bombed.

Through Werner's childhood you see the development of Nazi propaganda in Germany and it's effect on his village, including the children in the orphanage. For me that was as scary and sad as the events at the special boarding school he later ends up at, which is indoctrinating boys as it trains them for the army. Marie-Laure shows the changes in Paris as the Nazi's come ever closer and then how her community in Saint Malo overcome their fear and begin resistance work.

I got frustrated with the blurb for this book before I started because I didn't think it hinted enough at the plot but now I'm glad it left things out. There are certain threads that run through the story connecting things and acting as catalysts for events, but I don't want to talk about them because I think it was part of the experience to discover them myself as I went along, and make the connections, without being told what was going to be the connection before even starting. What I will say is that Werner's friendships and encounters shape his life, and you see how one thing leads to another. Similarly, Marie-Laure's relationship with her father, his colleagues, and then the housekeeper and my favourite, her reclusive uncle, change over the story and were beautiful and touching to see.

I really loved this story and I hope you'll give it a try too. The ending did let the book down a little, I think, carrying on for a few chapters past what should have been the end. Despite that, it's one of my favourite books of the year so far and I'm so glad I got to read it.

I give 'All The Light We Cannot See' 9 stars out of 10.

Friday, August 14, 2015

July Reading Wrap Up

I read a lot of books and don't necessarily get around to reviewing all of them, or have enough to say about all of them to merit a review, so doing a reading wrap up at the end of the month to say a little bit about each is a great way to showcase them, I think.

Since Friday is the day I usually participate in 'Feature & Follow', and that's not everyone's cup of tea to read about, I've decided that in addition to that, Friday is Video Day! Each Friday I'll be sharing a video from my Book Tube channel (which is Ailsa Vlogs, please subscribe!).

This video features:

* We Were Liars, by E Lockhart
* Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling
* A Darker Shade of Magic, by V E Schwab
* Shards of Hope, by Nalini Singh 
* Clariel, by Garth Nix
* The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins
* Ice Forged, by Gail Z Martin
* All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Have you read any of these?


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Author's I've Read The Most Books From

Sorry for the radio silence recently - I had a family holiday, then went straight on to two weeks of work experience at Penguin Random House in London! That was an amazing time, but the wifi in my hostel wasn't the greatest, to say the least. I'm thinking about blogging about the work experience time, so let me know if that's something you'd be interested in hearing about.

On to Top Ten Tuesday - I love this weeks topic! I think it's really interesting. A couple of authors popped into my head straight away but then I started remembering different (finished or ongoing) series I've read, which threw off my initial thoughts. For the purpose of the list, I'm leaving out short stories.

I've put these roughly in order of number of books, counting down to the author I've read most.

10) Tamora Pierce - Yes, these are quite short, but I've read two of her series now - 8 books total.

9) J. K. Rowling - Apart from Harry Potter, I've read The Silkworm, so that's 8 books.

8) Ilona Andrews - I've read all except the most recent of her Kate Daniels books - 8 books again.

7) Richelle Mead - I've read several of hers from different series - 10 books in total.

6) Seanan McGuire - Despite feeling like I talk about her too much on this blog, I've 'only' read 11.

5) Katherine Kerr - She's started a new urban fantasy series (I've read the first one) but she's also got an epic fantasy sage, told over several quartets. I've read 13 of her books.

4) Kim Harrison - Every single one of her Rachel Morgan books. That's 13.

3) Keri Arthur - I've read a lot of these too, and still have a few Riley Jensen books to go. I've read 15 of her books in total I think.

2) Brian Jacques - In a throwback to childhood, I read a lot of Redwall books, plus some of his other work. I looked them up online and surprised myself - 17 books!

1) Nalini Singh - I've read all the Psy/Changeling books and several of the Angel series. 19 books overall.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke And The Bookish - check out their page & the link up.

Let me know if you've read any of these and what you thought of them! And if you leave a link to your own, I'll pop over and have a read.


Monday, August 10, 2015

(Negative) Book Review: The Girl On The Train

Title: The Girl On The Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publication date: January 2015
Publisher: Transworld
Source: Borrowed

Description: Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

My thoughts: I did not like this book. At all. I will go so far as to say I hated it.

It's not the writing. It is a well written book. My complaint is with the characters. The book is narrated primarily by Rachel, who it quickly becomes clear is an unreliable narrator. Within the first few pages readers realise she's an alcoholic and as the story goes on there are other reveals here and there that show other things that have been omitted, which paint her in a more and more unflattering light. The other two women who narrate are Anna, who is married to Rachel's ex-husband and 'Jess' (actually Megan), the woman Rachel watches from the train.

Primarily the narrators annoyed me for their idiocy. The three of them make silly choice after silly choice. In particular I had no sympathy for Rachel, who doesn't seem to be doing anything to help herself. I couldn't care about the characters or what happened to them because they were too idiotic. Rachel drinks and does silly things; Megan makes stupid choices and can't seem to grow up, and Anna sees everything as revolving around her.

I forced myself to keep going and I'll admit that I didn't guess how the book was going to end but the characters drove me up the wall. They made it irredeemable in my opinion. I will give this 2/10, based on the fact the writing was actually fine.

Have you read this one? What did you think?


Friday, July 17, 2015

Follow Friday

Feature & Follow is a weekly event hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Each week there is a question to answer and the idea is to meet other book bloggers.

I'M VERY EXCITED TO BE ONE OF THIS WEEKS FEATURED BLOGGERS!!! Hello, new visitors! Welcome to the blog and please have a look around :) Check out the ladies' posts (linked above) for my answers to their interview questions. You can also add your own FF link to their linky post over there.

This week the #FF question is: If you had the money, what would your personal library be like?

I think this is a great question for book lovers! My library would have a lovely wooden floor but with a nice rug to stop my feet getting too cold. There would be big windows to let in the light and all of the walls would be covered with shelves, floor to ceiling. I'd have a big wooden desk in the middle, with a nice comfy winged leather chair for settling in to with a book. I'd also have a window seat with lots of cushions, as another little reading nook.

How about you, what would your library look like?

You can follow me by GFC, email or on Twitter - all links over to the side. Or if you're more into video, my Book Tube channel is
Ailsa Vlogs.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mini book review: Natural Causes by James Oswald

Title: Natural Causes
Author: James Oswald
Publication date: May 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Crime
Notes: #1 of the Inspector McLean series

Description: Natural Causes is the first novel in the Detective Inspector McLean series, from Sunday Times best-selling author James Oswald. A young girl's mutilated body is discovered in a sealed room. Her remains are carefully arranged, in what seems to have been a cruel and macabre ritual, which appears to have taken place over 60 years ago. For newly appointed Edinburgh Detective Inspector Tony McLean this baffling cold case ought to be a low priority - but he is haunted by the young victim and her grisly death. Meanwhile, the city is horrified by a series of bloody killings. Deaths for which there appears to be neither rhyme nor reason, and which leave Edinburgh's police at a loss. McLean is convinced that these deaths are somehow connected to the terrible ceremonial killing of the girl, all those years ago. It is an irrational, almost supernatural theory. And one which will lead McLean closer to the heart of a terrifying and ancient evil...

My thoughts: I'd heard good things about this author for both this series and his newer fantasy series, so I'd been keeping an eye out for the books. I knew the author was Scottish and the books were set in and around Edinburgh, so that boded well for it painting Scotland & Edinburgh accurately - not something that always happens. I was right - James Oswald begins the story with Inspector Tony McLean stopping at a violent crime scene in one of the affluent areas of the city. Right from the start, Oswald brings Edinburgh to life - or rather death, as Inspector McLean goes from one crime scene to another, interspersed with time at the frantic police station and several visits to the morgue. While at first each crime seems straightforward and isolated, with a killer being found soon afterwards, Tony knows it isn't that simple and tries to untangle all the threads before someone else becomes a victim.

There is a hint of something supernatural in the story and readers are left guessing as to whether there really are ghosts involved, or whether the 'supernatural' events are simply coincidence and imagination. I thought it was a good story and I liked the cast of characters and their developing professional and personal relationship. I do plan to read the next book in the series when I can find it. So, if you're in the mood for some Scottish crime solving with a frustrated Detective Inspector and a hint of something supernatural, I can recommend this one. I'm giving this one 7/10.


Buy it: The Book Depository

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, to share the books you got this week.

Last week the publisher Hachette UK ran an 'Insight Into Publishing' day with talks from staff in a variety of departments giving more information about what their jobs involve. I was lucky enough to be there and apart from it being a really interesting day, we got a couple of free books!

First there was an ebook of 'A Man Called Ove' by Fredrik Backman. I don't really know much about this one and I haven't started it yet, but since it's an ebook, it'll be one of my 'back up books' on holiday next week. Here's the description: At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets. But isn't it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so? In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible...

Next we got a paperback copy of The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith. This is a crime novel, the sequel to A Cuckoo's Calling, and while I haven't read the first one, I started reading this on the tube and it seems good so far. I'm thinking of taking it on holiday and finishing it there. It's about a private investigator who is looking in to the disappearance of an author, then the author turns up murdered. I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

Finally, while I was in London I caved in & bought the latest Psy/Changeling novel - Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh. This is the 14th book in the series and follows two of the Arrow Squad, the elite soldiers who protect Psy. I loved this book and will review it very soon.

What books did you get this week?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday

Feature & Follow is a weekly feature hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View

You can follow me by email, GFC or on Twitter! Links on the right hand side of the page to all three. You could also subscribe to my Book Tube channel on youtube, which is here: Ailsa Vlogs.

The question this week is incredibly un-bookish but I'll go ahead and answer it anyway. "You can only eat one cuisine type for the rest of your life. Which would you choose? (E.g. Italian, French, Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Indian etc…)"

Hard question but I'll stick with British because apart from having some favourites I miss when I'm away, it's a big conglomeration of foods - we have our own versions of a lot of other things, after all (like curry!).

Feel free to link your FF posts in the comments and I'll have a look at them.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Book review: Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z Martin

Title: Deadly Curiosities
Author: Gail Z Martin
Release date: June 2014
Publisher: Solaris
Source: Bought
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Description: Welcome to Trifles & Folly, a store with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670 - acquiring and neutralising dangerous supernatural items. It's the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500-year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market.

When a trip to a haunted hotel unearths a statue steeped in malevolent power, and a string of murders draws a trail to the abandoned old Navy yard, Cassidy and Sorren discover a diabolical plot to unleash a supernatural onslaught on their city.

It's time for Kincaide and her team to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up. 

My thoughts: This is one of the most action-packed stories I've read for a while. The first chapter sees Cassidy and her colleague Teag hearing about a haunted guest house which someone wants their help with. To simplify the story a little I'll say that they also have to deal with a variety of 'haunted' objects which cause Cassidy, with her magical gifts, to go a bit funny. Teag & Cassidy both think all the hauntings and negative feelings around these objects are linked together and connected to a string of brutal murders which are happening in the city but they can't figure out how.

I thought it was an incredibly spooky story - a lot of the danger & fear in the books comes from shadowy things seen out the corner of the eye, or things moving in mirrors if you look at them long enough, which is exactly the sort of thing that creeps me out. I get paranoid and jumpy and this book really uses that kind of fear to crank up the tension of the characters in the story. They know that there are bad things watching them but they have a hard time getting a clear look at them and figuring out what it is.

Aside from the action and the creepy bad guys, I really liked the voice of it and the way Gail Z Martin paints the world. I believe she has written several short stories set in this world, and although this book is the first in a series you can really tell, reading it, that those other stories exist. For instance, Teag has some magical powers of his own and it says those are a recent discovery for him. The way it's talked about, I'd be willing to bet there are stories with Teag learning about this gift somewhere. The back cover description also emphasises the vampire Sorren but he actually comes in to the story later on and seems to be more in the role of 'big back up they call in an emergency'. Again, I expect he has more of a role in other stories. For all that it's obvious this world has been built up over other stories, I think it works very well and it doesn't affect the telling of this particular story. I didn't feel like I needed to have read the other things first, but it did make me want to read them now!

One thing keeping me from giving this a perfect score is that there is no hint of romance (except between Teag & his boyfriend but they're very solidly a couple already) and I am partial to just a little bit of romance. However, it's not necessarily a bad thing at this stage in a series and it gives me hope that this will go the way of my favourites and gradually bring in a little hint of romance over several stories, building it up realistically. Although the book takes place over the time of a couple of weeks, there really wasn't any time for Cassidy to be thinking romantically, after all!

As one of the best starts to an urban fantasy series that I've read in the last year, I'm giving this one 7/10. I hope there's a sequel soon and I imagine this series can grow in to 10 star ratings as it goes on.


Buy it: The Book Depository  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Book review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Title: Ancillary Justice
Author: Ann Leckie
Release date: 2013
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: #1 in a trilogy
Source: Borrowed from a friend

Description: On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. 
Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance. 

My thoughts: If you read science fiction and haven't heard of this book yet, I'm not sure where you've been. I only dip an occasional toe into the SF side of SFF but I've been hearing about this book since it came out and started winning awards all over the place. My friend has a copy so I jumped at the chance to read it.

The book follows the starship 'Justice of Torren', an artificial intelligence. The story goes between the past where Justice of Torren was based on a planet, with hundreds of bodies (ancillaries) she controlled simultaneously, each functioning alone and able to function together as one, and the present, where she has been cut down to just one body and is using the name 'Breq'. The past sections paint the events leading up to the betrayal that led to the loss of all her other bodies and eventually the betrayal itself. The present follows Breq as she reaches (she hopes) the end of a twenty year quest for something that will give her vengeance on her betrayers.

The story is in first person from Justice of Torren/Breq's point of view which I think works very well. There were times when it was hard to get my head around how she could be controlling all the bodies at once, performing so many different tasks, having multiple conversations, but generally it was fine. One interesting side-effect of her narrating the story is that because the people who built her have no concept of gender, she refers to everyone as 'she'. Occasionally there are characters who she knows are on their planet male or female but she never actually reveals it in the narration - it's just "I used the correct gender pronoun for the language". I found this interesting but I've heard some people got annoyed with it.

I found the story really interesting, with plenty of 'oh crap now they're really in trouble' moments. It was very interesting to have the story told by an AI (artificial intelligence) and focussed around them and the nature of their ability to choose things, have feelings, express things while still being neutral, a computer built to obey. I'm definitely going to read the rest of the series to find out what happens next.

Overall I'm giving this 8/10.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Independent Bookseller Week: 3 of my favourites

If you hadn't heard, it's Independent Bookseller Week here in the UK - a time to highlight independent stores, with events around the country. I thought I'd share three of my favourite independent shops. Written list below the video :)

First, I love Transreal Fiction, in Edinburgh. They have an amazing selection of science fiction and fantasy books, and everything in between, as well as comics, stuffed toys, etc. They're always happy to order in something if they don't have it and it's a great place to find American editions of books, especially if it's not currently published in the UK.

Next, Looking Glass Books, also in Edinburgh. This one is part cafe, part bookshop and regularly hosts author events. Very cute shop and a lovely place to hang out and write.

Third, Seven Stories in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Seven Stories really deserves a post of it's own - it's the National Centre for Children's Books and apart from hosting various wonderful exhibits (I loved the Jacqueline Wilson one) they have a large children's bookshop on the ground floor, with everything from picture books to young adult stories.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to talk about the books you've received recently. 

I've got four books to talk about today, and only one of them I actually bought, the rest I'm borrowing from my boyfriend and Dad. I love being able to share books with people! :)

I've recently started doing Youtube videos again, after watching some 'book tube' videos & seeing how happy and enthusiastic everyone is, so here is my latest 'book haul' video that I made for there. It covers some books I've talked about here in a previous StS post, and misses out my most recent purchase. My written thoughts are below the video if you prefer that :)

First book I borrowed from Dad is 'The Girl On The Train' by Paula Hawkins. I've seen a lot of fuss about this one and it's a strong bestseller so I'm interested to check it out.

Next, also borrowed from Dad, is 'All The Light We Cannot See' by Anthony Doerr. It's about a young blind girl living in Paris who then evacuates to the coast with her father when the German army moves on Paris during the Second World War. I'm looking forward to reading this one soon.

Then there's 'Ancillary Justice' by Ann Leckie. This is a science fiction story that has won a whole load of awards. I've read the first couple of chapters and I'm hoping to finish it this week and post a review.

Finally I bought 'A Darker Shade Of Magic' by V. E. Schwab the other day. I've seen reviews on loads of blogs this spring and my friend was kind enough to tell me Amazon had it on sale, so I've got that waiting on my Kindle app for when I have time. Too many print books to read just now but I'll hopefully get to it later in the summer.

Which books did you get this week?


Book Review: Beyond Innocence by Kit Rocha

Title: Beyond Innocence
Author: Kit Rocha
Release date: May 2015
Genre: Dystopian/Erotic
Source: Review copy from the authors
Series: Beyond Series #5

Description: For years, Jared has existed on the fringes of both Eden society and Dallas O'Kane's Sector Four gang. He travels between these worlds, protected by his money and power - money he earned selling his body, and power that comes from knowing secrets. He's untouchable - until he starts a new life gathering intelligence for the O'Kanes.

Lili Fleming walked out of Sector Five with a gun, the bloodstained clothes on her back, and an icy determination to survive. She finds herself in a world where people live hard and love harder, and nothing's more terrifying than how much the O'Kanes wake her up, make her feel—especially Jared.

Emotion is a risk he can't afford, and a complication she doesn't need. But neither can resist the lust simmering between them, and the sparks that could either melt the ice around both their hearts…or get them killed. Because the only thing more dangerous than loving an O'Kane is loving a spy.

My thoughts: I love this series and I'm glad to say that this one lived up to its predecessors. However, I have very mixed feelings about this book. I really enjoyed it, some things make it one of my favourites from the series, but there are other things that I think could have been done slightly differently or explored slightly more which I think would have made it even better. In some places it felt rushed.

Let's start at the beginning - I was eager to read about Lili, who has been a political match/trophy wife to a pretty horrible guy before escaping to Sector Four. She'd shown she was pretty determined and I hoped that with her links to the Sector politics she would be a very interesting character to read about. She was but not quite as much as I'd hoped - it's definitely Sectors vs. Eden politics in this book.

Kit Rocha matches Lili up with Jared, who has been floating around the edge of the O'Kanes since the start of the series. While we know a bit about him at this point, I was curious to know more. I couldn't quite imagine how they were going to get to know each other, especially when I read the first couple of chapters, where Lili is running out of her brain-numbing drugs and gradually being forced to start feeling things again. She first sees Jared at one of the O'Kane parties and they talk - he's dressed smartly, like men she's used to seeing, which is something familiar in a place that is so different from everything she's known. It was a good first meeting but then I was disappointed with how quickly things escalated from there. It felt a lot like insta-love, which I really hate in books. I just don't believe that these two could become that interested in each other and that close so quickly. I especially don't believe it with how numb Lili had been and how timid and frail she's made out to be in the first few chapters of the books.

Apart from the insta-love it was a pretty good story. I do have to talk about the other bit that frustrated me though. Lili is trying to convince Jared that she can help him in his ventures in to Eden. She's got a background of being arm candy at important political events and being the perfect show wife. Who else do we know who knows how to play political games with rich people? Particularly rich Eden people? So I thought "Yay, we're going to see more of Noelle proving her worth! And getting more page time apart from as a sex partner!" But no. A little later in the book, there was a similar situation. I thought, "So now she's going to go to Noelle for advice and make a great new friend!" Again, no. I'm disappointed that given how much this book works around Eden politics, we don't see Noelle giving any input. I also thought that given their somewhat similar backgrounds and how shy Noelle was at first that there would be on-page evidence of a friendship forming between the two women.

All that aside, I do think that this series is getting better and better. I hope the political games continue in the next instalment of the Beyond series. I'm going to give this 7/10.

Author website with buy links


PS, if you've read this one, I'd love to talk about it! Leave me a comment or talk to me on Twitter :)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Book review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Macmillan
Release date: Jan 2014
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Bought at Waterstones

Description: Cath and Wren are identical twins and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fanfiction she writes where there's romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. 
Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realising that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible. 

My thoughts: I love this book! I read it first a year ago and could have sworn I'd reviewed it then, but apparently not. Having just re-read it cover to cover I get the chance to talk about it now instead!

The book starts with shy nervous Cath moving in to her college dorm and resenting the fact that her sister is moving away from her, to a dorm across the campus with a girl she's already made friends with.  Meanwhile Cath has the grumpy Reagan, a girl a couple of years older than her as a roommate. The story follows Cath as she adjusts to university life. I really wish I had this book in my first year of university, because it would have helped me so much seeing a character experience the problems I was. Because my first year sucked - I massively struggled to make friends, and I stayed in my flat a lot of the time when I wasn't in classes or studying at the library. Gradually, Reagan drags Cath out of her shell a bit to face things like the dining hall.

There are a couple of other big things happening in this book for Cath. She's writing a long fanfiction, essentially her version of the last 'Simon Snow' novel (about a boy at a school for magicians) which is releasing at the end of the class year. Cath is determined to finish her version of it before the real one is published, and she has thousands of readers wanting to know what happens next in her story. She's taking a creative writing course and working on assignments with Nick, who loves to write as much as she does, and they are each helping each other to improve. But Nick never walks her home from the library at midnight. Levi, Reagan's (maybe) boyfriend comes to do that, or Cath runs back by herself. So she likes Nick, but....

Then her sister is getting drunk at parties, worrying Cath. And her Dad seems to be struggling having the house to himself without his daughters around. And their mum, who left when they were younger, wants to get back in touch with them. Why now, thinks Cath? But her twin wants to see their mum, and Cath just can't understand why.

All these threads are woven together really well. So although the story is following Cath through her year, it's never boring. The decline and then mending of her relationship with her sister was really well told. Her adjustments to life at university were something I could really relate to and it shows that even if you struggle at first, which lots of people do, you'll figure it out, you'll adjust, and then university really can be a great place. Cath changes over the book, in some ways quite a lot, but it is all believable change because you can see the various tipping points in the story that impact her. And if you needed any more reasons to love it, the end of each chapter has an 'excerpt' either from the 'real' Simon Snow stories, or from one of Cath's fanfics about the characters, which are all fun to read and give a snapshot into the world Cath loves so much.

 This is a wonderfully told story with characters who are all believable. If you've ever been a fanfiction writer, a fangirl or boy for a series, a struggling uni student, I highly recommend this book. And if you weren't any of those things, read it anyway, because it's great. There's a gradual romance, family drama, drama with Cath's classes... so many great things.

I really love this book, and I'm absolutely giving it 10/10.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's reviews to show off the books you've borrowed, bought or been given this week.

I haven't done this for a couple of weeks, so here are my books. The first is an ebook. The other two I got this week in Edinburgh. I told myself "I can't buy more books!" But I was hunting around the charity shops for a new jacket, and found a couple of things I couldn't resist. It's money going to charity so it doesn't count as buying books ;-). All links go to goodreads.

 Leave Your Mark, by Aliza Licht. This one is a bit different for me. It's non-fiction, sort of half advice book, half autobiography of Aliza Licht who is the head of public relations for DKNY. I saw a few promotional excerpts for this one, and since I'm applying for publishing jobs just now, I thought it would be useful to see her advice. I'll be reviewing this one sometime in June I expect.

Clariel by Garth Nix. I love Garth Nix and his 'Old Kingdom' series is one I come back to re-read again and again. Clariel is set many years (a couple of hundred, I think) before the events of Sabriel. I think it might even be set before Touchstone is born, but I can't quite remember. I'm very excited to read this, I'll be getting to it very soon. And the shop had it for just £2 for the hardback! Can you blame me for buying it?

Natural Causes, by James Oswald. This is a crime novel, set in Scotland, written by a Scottish author. And yes, that is Edinburgh on the cover, for the curious. It appeals to me for all of those reasons! It started as a self published novel but he eventually picked up an agent who sold the series to Penguin. He's now also got a fantasy series being released, which I'd love to read too. This is definitely going to be coming on holiday with me this summer, if I don't end up reading it sooner!

Have you read any of these books? What did you get this week?


Friday, May 29, 2015

Feature & follow: Your TBR List

Feature & Follow is a weekly feature hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View

It's been a quiet couple of weeks for me, but I'll be back later today with a review of Rainbow Rowell's 'Fangirl'. And remember, you can still enter to win a kindle, or a bundle of ebooks, on the blog here.

This week's question is 'How many books are on your 'To Be Read' list?' To which I can only say: Ha. Hahahahahaha.

In the physical pile of books that I own, I'd say easily 20 that I either haven't started or have only got part way through, probably more than that. On my mental list of books I want to read, and my amazon wishlist, there are many more.
I imagine I'm not alone in being like this, but leave me your links or thoughts in the comments :)


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke & The Bookish

*Reminder - win a kindle & bundle of ebooks - enter here*

This week's theme is 'Ten books I plan to have in my beach bag this summer'.
Each year my family goes on holiday to the beach. This is Scotland, so our time on the beach involves sitting on the sand or on some rocks that shelter you from the wind, and reading for ages. Then we go back to the holiday house and keep reading there. For me, the kind of book I read on the beach is one I've been looking forward to having the time to get stuck in to, or it's the first in the series with the rest of the series in my bag to glom through in one week. So here are several books that I own and want to be reading this summer, sometime, with links going to Goodreads:

1) Farlander, by Col Buchanan

2) The Emperor's Blades, by Brian Staveley

3) Ice Forged, by Gail Z. Martin

4) Blood Song, by Anthony Ryan

5) The Shadow of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky (I've read the first one, and my Dad has the whole rest of the series.)

6) Some books by Elizabeth Moon. (I'm not sure where to start with these, but again, my Dad has loads of them.)

And I think that's plenty to be going on with :-)

Which books are you reading this summer? Feel free to leave me links in the comments!


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Giveaway: *Win a Kindle* & Beyond series by Kit Rocha

Hello! Slow couple of weeks post wise, but today I have a giveaway for you! The next book in the 'Beyond' series by Kit Rocha comes out this week, so to celebrate, the authors are giving away a Kindle & a massive set of ebooks! If that wasn't enough, you could also win an ebook set of the first three books in the sexy dystopian series. Keep reading to find out more :-)

The new book is Beyond Innocence, about Lili, a former sector leader's wife, and Jared, a high class whore who's been on the edge of the O'Kane crowd for a while now. I'll be reviewing this in the next couple of days, but for now here's the blurb:

For years, Jared has existed on the fringes of both Eden society and Dallas O'Kane's Sector Four gang. He travels between these worlds, protected by his money and power--money he earned selling his body, and power that comes from knowing secrets. He's untouchable—until he starts a new life gathering intelligence for the O'Kanes.

Lili Fleming walked out of Sector Five with a gun, the bloodstained clothes on her back, and an icy determination to survive. She finds herself in a world where people live hard and love harder, and nothing's more terrifying than how much the O'Kanes wake her up, make her feel—especially Jared.

Emotion is a risk he can't afford, and a complication she doesn't need. But neither can resist the lust simmering between them, and the sparks that could either melt the ice around both their hearts…or get them killed. Because the only thing more dangerous than loving an O'Kane is loving a spy.

You can read the first two chapters on Kit Rocha's website, here.
Purchase links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore.

So, on to the giveaway! As I said, you can win the first three books in the series: Beyond Shame, Beyond Control & Beyond Pain. Just leave a comment letting me know how you follow the blog!

Enter by leaving a comment and letting me know how you follow the blog!

To win the Kindle & giant ebook package, use the Rafflecopter button below! (This larger competition runs across multiple blogs, so there will be a smaller chance of winning.) 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's reviews to showcase the books you've received this week. 

I got more books this week that I thought, mostly thanks to the library, so let's get right on to them!

Stormcaller, by Tom Lloyd. I've been considering buying this book for a while, so having found it in the library I'm glad to finally get the chance to read it. 

Squire, by Tamora Pierce (Protector of the Small #3). I've been reading this series recently (check my review for book one) and I'm looking forward to finishing it up this week.


Lady Knight, by Tamora Pierce (Protector of the Small #4).
Spies, by Ernest Volkman. This is a collection of true stories from former spies, which my friend leant to me with a recommendation.
The Name Of The Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Kingkiller Chronicles #1. I've actually got this book already and it's one of my favourites, but this is the audiobook, another library find. I love a good audiobook and I'm very happy to be adding this one to the collection. 

Finally, the one I'm most excited about: I received from the authors an ARC of the latest 'Beyond' novel, Beyond Innocence. It comes out on the 20th, so you can expect my review a couple of weeks from now.

Leave your links in the comments!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Feature & Follow: What to Read

Feature & Follow is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read, as a way to meet new bloggers.

This week they posed the question "How do you decide what to read?"

I think this is an interesting question! Generally if I've just bought a book, I'll start reading it that day, even if I'm already reading something else. If I'm looking for something new from my tbr pile, it's largely dependant on my mood. If I want something lighter, happier, I might go for a historical romance. Steampunk always cheers me up too. If I want my usual, I go for an urban fantasy, I love those. It really does depend on feeling, and which book blurb I think sounds better out of the books I'm deciding between. Sometimes reviews sway me, but the kind of books I'm swayed to buy because of reviews are the kind I'll read straight away!

If you're interested in my reviews, feel free to follow by email, GFC, or on twitter :-)


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: The Witch With No Name by Kim Harrison

Title: The Witch With No Name
Author: Kim Harrison
Release date: September 2014
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Series: The Hollows
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Description: Rachel Morgan has come a long way since her early days as an inexperienced bounty hunter. She’s faced vampires and werewolves, banshees, witches, and soul-eating demons. She’s crossed worlds, channelled gods, and accepted her place as a day-walking demon. She’s lost friends and lovers and family, and an old enemy has unexpectedly become something much more.

But power demands responsibility, and world-changers must always pay a price. Rachel knew that this day would come – and now it is here.

To save Ivy’s soul and the rest of the living vampires, to keep the demonic ever-after and our own world from destruction, Rachel Morgan will risk everything . . .

My thoughts: When you read a series over a number of years, there are always mixed feeling as you hold the last one in your hands. I had hopes, expectations, sadness that it would soon be done, and a little fear that it might not be a 'good' ending, tying things up well. Of course, this is Kim Harrison, and after reading this series for the past 10 years or so, I should know I can trust her.

The main conflict of this book is that Cormel, vampire leader of Cincinnati wants Rachel to solve the problem of vampires keeping their souls in their 'second life'. And he wants her to do it NOW. Rachel's learnt to stand up for herself, but Cormel knows her weak points: her friends.

Things quickly escalate, and soon there are elves and demons mixed up in the problem too. There is some lying, some double crossing, and some very cute moments. Even with all the rushing around in the books, Rachel gets some time alone with Trent and their relationship continues to grow and change.  You get to see pretty much all of Rachel's friends and family in this book, including the werewolves, the elf children, Jenks' family...

I don't want to talk too much about the plot, so let me focus instead on the questions I had before starting. Yes, this is a great final book of the series. It wraps up the big issues and it has a story of its own without being a book-long epilogue. There will be other issues for Rachel and her friends after the book finishes, but we don't see them, and I don't think we need to. This series for me has been a perfect example of excellent writing: characters who grow and change in a clear but gradual way over the series; an overarching plot connecting all the books; individual plots distinct to each book; an engaging romance element; well developed secondary characters; and now - a good, rounded off ending.

If for some reason you haven't read this series yet, feel confident that you can go straight from one book to the next with no waiting now, and that there's a good ending. If you've been holding off reading this last one: it's safe, I promise! Go out and buy it now! :)

I give this book, of course, ten out of ten.